Experts predict judge will take stern action against Trump for violating gag order

New York prosecutors stated on Thursday that they are currently not pursuing imprisonment for Trump’s repeated breaches of his gag order in his hush money trial. However, this does not prevent the judge from considering such action.

According to Bennett Gershman, a former New York prosecutor and law professor at Pace University, the judge’s decision is not influenced by the prosecution’s lack of emphasis on jail time.

According to Gershman, this judge is not one to mess around. He doesn’t tolerate any games and if he senses that someone is trying to manipulate or deceive him, he will respond with firm and decisive action.

Judge Juan Merchan imposed a fine of $9,000 on Trump on Tuesday due to his violation of the gag order. Additionally, he ordered Trump to remove any social media posts pertaining to jurors and witnesses.

During the court hearing on Thursday, prosecutors strongly advocated for imposing four additional sanctions on Trump due to his violation of the gag order.

He is accused of violating the code of conduct due to his remarks given to reporters outside the courtroom and in other interviews and press conferences.

The New York Times reported that prosecutor Christopher Conroy informed the judge on Thursday about the detrimental impact of Trump’s statements on the fairness of the proceeding and the administration of justice.

The Times has reported a list of statements that include:

    • Trump saying the jury was “mostly all Democrat” in a telephone interview with a right-wing media outlet. He also said: “It’s a very unfair situation.”
    • Trump calling former National Enquirer public David Pecker ”very nice” at a news conference
    • Trump calling his former counsel Michael Cohen a “convicted liar” who has “no credibility whatsoever” in a television interview.
    • Trump speaking outside a courtroom to reporters and calling Cohen a liar on April 22 – the same day testimony began.
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According to Trump’s legal team, Trump’s response was justified as it was in direct response to political attacks. In fact, Trump’s gag order explicitly states that it does not prevent him from addressing these alleged political attacks.

According to The Times, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche highlighted Cohen’s numerous TikTok videos where he openly criticized Trump. Blanche argued that Cohen’s actions demonstrated that he did not require protection from the gag order.

According to reporters, the judge seemed to agree with some of Blanche’s arguments, except for Trump’s comments about the jury.

Judge Merchan did not make a ruling on the four additional contempt allegations on Thursday. However, there is a possibility that she may address these allegations in the coming days.

According to Gershman, when a judge threatens someone with contempt and jail time, that is usually enough to get the desired result.

Over the past year, Trump has encountered several gag orders in criminal and civil cases. In his New York civil fraud trial, he faced a fine of at least $15,000 for violating a gag order. His comments, which included remarks about a judge’s law clerk, led to this penalty. Trump’s team responded by suing and arguing that the gag order was an abuse of power that infringed upon constitutional rights, as reported by The Associated Press.

It is uncertain whether the judge would impose any jail time on Trump for repeatedly violating the gag order. Legal experts have differing opinions on the potential consequences of this move. Some argue that it could disrupt the trial, contribute to Trump’s narrative of being targeted unfairly, or prolong the legal battle.

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According to Peter Joy, a law professor and director of the criminal justice clinic at Washington University School of Law, judges have a significant amount of precedent when it comes to their authority to hold individuals in contempt and incarcerate them.

Joy expressed strong certainty that he firmly believes the individual in question will persist in disregarding the order, even to the extent of facing more severe consequences.

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During a heated exchange on Thursday, Trump’s legal team also attempted to undermine the credibility of Keith Davidson, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels.

Joy explained that lawyers have a certain level of freedom when it comes to challenging witness credibility and questioning the prosecution’s theory.

During the questioning, Trump’s lawyers extensively questioned Davidson about his involvement in celebrity scandals. This included probing into his association with a former client who supposedly leaked information about Lindsay Lohan’s time in rehab.

According to The Times, Davidson claims to have had more than 1,500 clients.

Joy believes that it is yet to be determined whether Trump’s approach of questioning Davidson will be effective. However, she asserts that this method is ethically permissible.

Joy stated that Trump’s lawyers are using these kinds of statements to test the government’s case, which is within their ethical boundaries. However, there is a possibility that they may cross a line if they make statements without considering the truth. So far, the statements they have made about Daniels’ lawyer could be seen as their opinion, even though it may be speculative. Therefore, it can be said that they are likely on safe ground.

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Barb McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney and University of Michigan law professor, highlighted the prosecutors’ main objective on Thursday: establishing a strong basis for the admission of text messages as evidence.

According to her, a significant portion of the narrative is being conveyed by the government through text messages.

According to prosecutors, the Trump organization’s scheme is being outlined through a substantial collection of text messages and other pieces of evidence.

Former President Donald Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. According to prosecutors, he was allegedly involved in a scheme to suppress damaging stories prior to his 2016 campaign. Trump has denied these charges, but if convicted, he could face up to four years in prison for each count.

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